Looks Ain’t Necessarily So by Jo Russell

Someone was pounding on the door. It was hard to hear with rain pelting on the roof spilling over the rain gutters to the yard that now looked like a lake. A week of hard rain.

“Answer that, Sweetie!” Maria called out to her daughter, “Grandma and I are emptying buckets right now.”

When young Julie answered the door, she gasped at the stranger. The woman at the door dripped with rain from her droopy, pointed hat to the black rubber boots that encased her wet socks and feet. Red muddy water sloshed into the room, staining the carpet like blood.

But the girl had only noticed the pointed nose and the wart on it. She couldn’t speak. She stared at the specter. I’ve never seen a real one before. Yikes!  

“Child, close your flood gates! Tell your family to close the flood gates!”

Can I take the word of a witch? Julie backed slowly, unable to speak or close the door.

“Julie, what is it?” her mom called, replacing the bucket and wiping her hands on a

dry towel.

“Floodgates!” The woman hollered, “Close your floodgates! The canyon is flooded! Help is on the way!”

Julie whispered, “Mom, can you really believe what a witch tells you?”

It only took a glimpse for Mom to see the danger. Mom and neighbors wrestled the gates shut, pushing away broken tree branches and floating trash cans.

When Mom came inside again, she was shivering and wet “Julie, that lady isn’t a witch. She owns the motel! It was good she warned all of us.”

No long after, more familiar rescuers pounded on the door: the United States Marines.

“We need to take you and your family out of the canyon!”

Julie and her siblings were lifted into a high vehicle with big wet tires. They did the same for others. Water to the bottom of the doors didn’t stop them. The soldiers lifted Julie, her grandma, mom, the other children and neighbors into the vehicle. The uniformed soldier guided it, parting the deep water into a “v.”

After a long drive in the dark and hard rain, the vehicles stopped and taken out of the canyon to a safe, dry place. Soon the families from far from the flood, wrapped in blankets and settled into a motel for the night.

God hears prayers always. He answers without fail. We can count on him as our rock and fortress even today. David wrote, “Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortess to save me.” [Psalm 31:2]

One can count on God to rescue, remembering the Lord’s declaration in Isaiah, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” [Isaiah 55:8]

And his ways to warn and rescue may include a dripping wet woman in a pointy hat with a wart on her nose. A witch? It ain’t necessarily so!

 

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of scores of articles, a half dozen anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com and her speaking engagements. [Jo lives in northeast Arizona and writes a popular humorous weekly blog on her website, http://www.button-to-god.com.]

 

For the Love of Life and the Great Outdoors! By Jo Russell

In their small family, the go-to slogan to bring life back to her teen sons was, “Pack the truck! Let’s go to the great outdoors!”

With the destination the river canyon, Rob and Len shouldered the inflatable raft, oars, pump, and gear and were sitting in the truck before Joanna finished the egg sandwiches.

“Lord, let us have a safe trip and a fun time!” Joanna began.

Then to her 13-year-old sons, “After lunch, you’ll paddle down the river and I’ll meet you at the take out-point.”

“Sounds like a plan,” 13-year-old Rob affirmed.

Arriving at the river in a private recreation area, the family set up lunch under a picnic cabana. Rob and Len worked at pumping up the pontoons of the raft and were soon circling the calm water leading to river rapids.  But something was wrong. One pontoon was flat as a failed soufflé.

“What’s with the raft?” Joanna wanted to know.

“Dunno, Mom!” the two responded together.

“Try putting air in it again,” Joanna advised them. “There was nothing wrong with the raft the last time we used it.”

“Yep. We know. ”

But pump as they did, the pontoon would not hold air.

About that time, the park host appeared with a smile.  “Do you plan to use the water today? I’m collecting fees. You’ll need to pay each for to use the picnic cabana, the parking space, the beach, and the water, too. It’s $ for each use area and totally worth it!”

“But I only have $,” she responded.

“Then I guess you’ll need to take the raft out of the water and pack it up. Enjoy your time at the River Canyon Park! ”

As Joanna helped her sons pull the raft to the beach, she saw a two-foot long split in the flat pontoon hissing out the rest of the air.  Her sons avoided her eyes.

But God’s hand was an answer to Joanna’s simple prayer that morning.  He kept them safe.

“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’” declares the Lord.” [Isaiah 55:8 NIV]  Think on this when prayers are not answered the way we wish. For it is our job to pray for God’s will, not for God to fill our wish list.

In the case of Joanna’s 13-year olds, God saved their lives. Though both would become white water raft guides as adults, the teens knew nothing about navigating real white water. Plus a few dollars more – or lack of – and the flat raft kept them all out of the rapids.

Once home, the boys fessed up.  Len volunteered, “While you were still at work, we took the raft out with Nick and John and hit a bridge pontoon. It tore the hole in it. Sorry, Mom. We couldn’t fix it. We didn’t tell you.”

“It’s okay this time,” she pulled them close in a hug. “Because of that, I still have you.”

God’s ways are not our ways. His ways can keep us safe in or out of the white water.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

Choose your Weapon: Fruit of the Looms or the Armor of God? By Jo Russell

Caroline was proud to be included in her mom’s decorating project. At last, the seven-year-old second grader could learn to paint and decorate from the Decorator Extraordinaire: her mom. Mom tackled each room of their fix-up home with color and enthusiasm.

“Honey, you’re old enough now. I’m going to teach you how to paint rooms and walls. It will be a skill you’ll use all your life. Pay attention!”

Dressed in her grubbies, Mom first pulled a pair of her husband’s Fruit of the Looms over her head.

Caroline assumed it was a necessary part of a hands-on decorator’s outfit. Caroline was ready with worn clothes for painting. But to properly be dressed for the job, she rummaged around in her brothers’ chest of drawers until she found a ratty pair of underwear. “How’s this?” Caroline asked as she put it on her head, her hair poking out of the leg holes.

“Perfect!”

Then they removed all the electrical plates, taped off the switches, used slanted trim brushes to carefully “cut in” in the corners, baseboards, and edges. After they “rolled” the paint onto the walls, the pair stood back to admire the beautiful transformation of Caroline’s brothers’ room.

“Caroline, you outdid yourself!” Mom commented as she pulled her daughter close after they finished the job. The two made quite a silhouette in baggy clothes, topped with underwear on their heads.

Thereafter, each painting job with her mom was a success – not only reflecting skill and artistry, but always done in the proper outfit. As long as Caroline lived at home, she had an endless supply of shabby Fruit of the Looms for her painting headgear.

When she moved into her own apartment, the walls were desperately scratched, marred, and soiled.

“Sorry.” The landlord apologized. “The painter didn’t show up on Tuesday. I know you need to move in right away.

“I’m a very skilled painter and I can make this place look new,” she promised. And so he agreed she could trade out paint and labor for part of the apartment rent.  But in all of her things, she had no Fruit of the Looms.

What about her own underwear?  Not at ten bucks a piece. The thin material and bikini cut wouldn’t keep out any paint. She was embarrassed to ask the landlord or any of the male apartment tenants to supply her with shabby Fruit of the Looms.

So she ventured to paint without part of her essential hands-on decorator uniform.

On Monday, after a weekend marathon of painting the one-bedroom apartment, she showed up for work, excited she had transformed the living quarters so completely.

“Great job, Caroline!” her mother would have assured her.

Coworker Larry studied Caroline and her hair. “You know, there is a wonderful new invention to help with painting.” And he tugged at a lock of her hair that was streaked with sage green.

“Really?!” she cried. She was always looking for better tools for trim, painting corners, getting straighter edges, and making the job easier.

“Yeah.” He said, tugging at a lock of hair decorated with sea foam green. “It’s called a hat. It will keep the paint out of your hair.”

So Caroline looked and did not find the essential shabby Fruit of the Looms at the local home improvement store. Instead, there were painting hats for sale right in there with her favorite tools. And from then on, Caroline was decked out in the whole armor of a hands-on decorator.

Have you put on the full armor of God?

Paul advises, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rules, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. “[Ephesians 10-13 NIV]

Perhaps right now you face unreasonable demands along with impossible deadlines—whether in business, career, relationships, challenges.

Do you wonder, “Where is God?”

Maybe you’re face to face with an unjust situation that you can’t change. It could be you’ve received upsetting news about health—your immediate family or a close friend. Haven’t you prayed repeatedly for God’s help and intervention? Haven’t you done your part?

But God isn’t finished. You are not up against people, but evil forces. To be ready for a fair fight, you need God and the proper armor: the belt of truth; the breastplate of righteousness, your feet fitted with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word – the Bible. [Ephesians 6:14-17]

You are ready to move forward and face any flaming arrows, accusations, and tough situations. And who’s got your back? God does. Not just another equal, but the God of the universe – with his unlimited power over all evil, nature, health, and challenges.

Your answer may be yet to come. Think of the ways that God has shown his mighty power – in the ways he commanded the parting of the Red Sea when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt – or when Jesus calmed the wind and waves on a storm on the Sea of Galilee.

Outfitted with the full armor of God, you enlist his help and can face anything – and you don’t even need shabby Fruit of the Looms.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

 

 

Just How Deep is the Water? By Jo Russell

Teenager Chris, the five-year-old twins and Jolene, boarded the ferry boat to travel over to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It was a new experience for the three of  them. For Chris, it was yet another adventure forging through the unknown with his crazy aunt.

Chris had come to think of Aunt Jolene as Sacagawea, guiding him and the twins  through the Pacific Northwest just as Lewis and Clark had done a century before.

“After three weeks of traveling and camping together, isn’t this great, having hot food we don’t have to cook and dishes we don’t have to wash?” Jolene looked around to see who agreed. The twins, their mouths surrounded by crumbs, nodded. Chris gripped the edge of his padded seat with white knuckles. He wasn’t appreciating the pincushion wooded islands on the blue water that were a stunning change from his desert home, where he had lived since birth.

“What can he be so afraid of?” she wondered. Perhaps Chris, being raised in a land-locked area, had never seen so much water. As the ferry’s motors rumbled and tickled his feet with the vibration on the steel deck, Chris let go of the seat and began to stand. Then he announced, “I’m going to take a walk around the outside.” The twins and Jolene watched him and noticed Chris stopped at each group of lifeboats.

When he returned, Chris asked his aunt, “How deep is the water here anyway?” Chris peered at the water. “I’ve counted them. They don’t have enough lifeboats for all of us!”

A half-hour later when they landed at the island, Jolene wondered if Chris stumbled when they got off the ferry, or had he stopped to kiss the solid ground?

“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.” [Psalm 69:1 NIV] were David’s cries of distress in a time of great fear and challenge. David had confidence that  God heard him and would help. Such faith is the foundation for answered prayers. Believe. Trust. Know.

Some people have so much anxiety that it affects their walk with the Lord.

Do you feel that the waters around you are too deep? I do at times. A good strategy is to pray through worry. What if, during prayer, you breathe in Jesus and breathe out your fears?

No water will ever be too deep for you and the Lord to navigate together.

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]

 

Need to Be Rescued? Call G-O-D! By Jo Russell

A cross-country runner at the rural high school, Doug was all confidence as he grabbed a light pack and headed out the door for a solitary trek up the mountain over hills and dales to the next town.

A time when the youth perceived he was immortal, unstoppable and able to leap over long-horned cattle in a single bound, he grinned as paused in the doorway.  

“I’m headed to town,” he called out to his mom in the kitchen. “It’s a half marathon.”

“So how many miles is that anyway?”

“Like thirteen or fourteen.”

“Are you up to that? How long do you think it will take you?”

“Of course I can do it. Maybe a little over two hours.”

“So come looking for you in four hours if I don’t hear from you?’

“Mom! How embarrassing! I’ve been working out. What would the team think? You won’t need to,” the youth assured his mom.

But thirteen miles uphill proved harder than any cross country run. Unlike the grassy golf courses and groomed trails for team practice and competition, Doug’s feet became sore with the rocky shoulders cutting into his shoes. He stopped just at the edge of town, wobbled in the sun, dropped to his knees, and then he closed his eyes.

“Now I know what ‘bonked’ means,” Doug murmured. He couldn’t have run another fifteen feet.

High school principal Ron and his wife Elaine were driving to town when they spotted the body on the side of the road.

“Stop, Ron! Someone’s dead on the side of the road!”

The prostrate body was sprawled motionless on a weedy patch by the road. They two rushed to him. There was no blood or missing limbs. The vultures weren’t circling overhead.  

“Honey,” Ron commented to his wife, “He looks familiar. Why, this boy goes to my high school! Call for help!”  

Just as Elaine raised her phone to call 9-1-1, the lad’s eyelids fluttered.

“You’re alive!” she cried aloud.

He croaked, “Water!” She gave him water to drink and more to douse his flushed face.

“I was just doing a half marathon,” he explained to the principal’s wife when he recovered a little. “It was a little harder than I thought. I forgot I have to run back, too.”

Red-faced Doug slumped low in the backseat as Principal Ron and his wife drove him home. Even more embarrassing than his own parents coming to get him was going home in the principal’s dual-cab truck.

But he was safe–rescued. And God was with him, as He is with us.

God told Joshua, who lead the Israelites after Moses’ death, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” [Joshua 1:5 NIV].

************

When it comes to rescues with overwhelming odds, I remember with a grateful heart a life and death experience when I was a young adult as confident as Doug.

Darkness was falling and I was traveling alone when the engine blew in my new two-wheeler – a touring motorcycle with all the bells and whistles. It was bear country. Then a would-be assailant pulled in. Just seconds before reaching me, he turned when the roar of a diesel engine split the air. As my rescuers pulled in, the would-be assailant drove off. Coincidence or God? It was God.

Just as Doug was rescued on his half marathon by people God sent, so God rescued me.

Do you need rescue from a messy life like I did? The Bible promises that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved [check Romans 10:9].     

God is there for your half marathons, overwhelming odds, and life. Let Him rescue you.

 

[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and  website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]   

 

 

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Real Need and True Friends by Jo Russell

At the site declared a disaster because of a wildfire, the news cameras focused on the visiting U.S. President at the time. The media expected the Chief Executive to be the center of attention as he addressed the crowd of thousands of rural residents.

A safe distance away from the flames and major highways, the evacuees had endured more than a week of hardships. Each quickly distinguished between real needs and wants. No one knew when they’d be going home – if they even had one left.

Real needs won out when the cameras scanned the crowd during the President’s speech. One evacuee held a sign high, “Kathy, bring clean underwear!”

When it comes to real needs, we can count on God. When it comes to true friends, we can count on God as well.

But what of the needs that are above and beyond the basics? What if you need just the special words to mend a relationship? A raise? More time with your family? The sale of your home as you relocate? Decisions for assisted care for older family members? Do you dare ask? Yes. God is not surprised with life and deals with it.

Think back to Jesus’ ministry. Jesus and Peter came to Capernaum when a collector asked them for the temple tax. As the son of a king, Jesus owed no tax. But to keep from offending, he decided he would pay the tax for both of them-–in a most unusual way. [Matthew 17:24-26]

“Doesn’t Jesus have a pouch or any money?” Peter might have wondered when Jesus told him to go fishing. Jesus told Peter the first fish would have a four-drachma coin in its mouth. That was the full amount for the tax for both of them. It was just enough–not too much or too little. They also got a meal out of it, too, because the tilapia, a mild fish, is good eating – even in restaurants today.

So don’t be afraid to ask for needs–above and beyond–or just the basics, like clean underwear.

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

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Jenny’s Puddin’ Pies By Jo Russell

Jenny’s Puddin’Pies
By Jo Russell

“Jenny is one sick three-year-old,” commented Nurse Nancy to her coworker at the local hospital. The youngster had had abdominal surgery. The heavy dose of antibiotics left her listless and grouchy.

“She won’t eat, and we’ve been trying,” added Nurse Janet.

“Yep, and we can’t even ply her with goodies.”

But her pediatrician, Dr. David, had to keep Jenny fed in some way, so he had the girl hooked to a feeding tube. She didn’t like it and let everyone know.

Days went by and still the nurses coaxed Jenny to eat. “Ice cream?”

She shook her head.

“Hamburger?”

Nope, not that either.

“Pudding?”

Jenny put her hands over her face and hollered, “NO!”

Children bounce back, but Jenny didn’t seem to. No sparkle. No joy of life. No smile.

Dr. David was concerned. He had already been by to see the wee patient when his colleague, Dr. Morris, checked the girl. The woman doctor decided on a novel treatment.

Later that day when he checked on her again, Dr. David expected to see a listless Jenny moping in bed in a spotless room. Instead, her heard giggles and found the three-year-old sitting on the floor with a messy cafeteria tray in front of her. Jenny’s smile was outlined in brown, which also had dripped on her gown and sprinkled in a circle around her on the white floor. Jenny had been eating the wet dirt, her own puddin’ pies. It was more fun than at home!

“What is going on?” Dr. David fumed to his nurses. “This is not a medical procedure! Who gave her these mud pies?”

The nurse blushed, “Dr. Morris, sir. She said that Jenny’s intestines have none of the good intestinal bacteria left because of the antibiotics. She told me that if Jenny’s body needed it, the girl would eat the mud.” The nurse paged the woman doctor to explain.

Dr. David and Dr. Morris shared a quizzical look as Jenny finished up her mud pies. Soon, the nurses restored the room and Jenny to order. Time would tell if the oddball treatment worked.

Just a few days later, the girl was glowing with a smile. After she finished all the food on her lunch plate, the little patient demanded, “Ice cream with gummy worms!”

With her defense system back up, Jenny was soon well enough to go home.

Jenny’s defense system was up to a fight with the good bacteria inside the same way that infusing ourselves with the Bible inside of us provides everything needed for inspiration, guidance and defense. God’s words start on the outside, but stay on the inside. They transform the body, mind and soul. Just as the good bacteria helped Jenny fight her way back to health, holding the Bible’s words inside provide a solid defense. Nothing could stop Jenny. Nor can anyone a Bible-infused you.

But some distance themselves from the Bible. Because they don’t read the Bible much, the words of God are faint inside. A few words or phrases are just not enough input in a spiritual life. Just as Jenny’s mud pies restored a balance of immunity and defense to fight for her health with just enough mud, a reader needs to build God’s words up inside as a defense against all types of attacks.

Somewhere in between too much and too little is a balance. Wherever you are, to get closer to God, you need to know Him. To know Him is to read His word, the Bible.

Author Alice Camille wrote “Read the Bible? Me?” for Catholic Digest. She commented, “Don’t we get our multivitamin of Scripture with three readings and a Psalm on Sundays… and do we really have to know more than Father has to say about it all in the homily?” She went on to summarize that “you do get the Biblical multivitamin at Mass, but no one mistakes the multivitamin for the full pleasure and experience of a meal. To consume more than the basic nutrients of Scripture, we must engage these stories more personally and completely. Not because we have to, but because we’re missing something wonderfully good if we don’t.”
[http://www.catholicdigest.com/articles/faith/praying/2010/08-16/read-the-bible-me]

Wonderfully good. Not just the adventure, mystery, and thrill, but the stories of faith and miracles all through the Bible. God is there for us. We can find Him anywhere, but we hear from Him in our quiet moments, prayer, and by reading the Bible. We’re not alone. Though God’s defense doesn’t show on the outside like a military parade, it does show in our strength on the inside and faith in Him as our warrior and defender – forever and always.

It’s easy. No need to eat mud pies. Just use the Bible to build up the fighting forces inside you for optimum spiritual health.

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

Lift Your Eyes to the Heavens! By Jo Russell

As a person visiting from arid Arizona, Barbara expected a reaction in the coastal town supermarket when she remarked to no one in particular, “Wow! That rain is really coming down!”

No one in the supermarket even blinked. With an average of 62.5 inches of precipitation a year in all forms, residents of the small seaside town just couldn’t get excited over anything dropping from the sky – rain, snow, sleet, ice, fog, hail, or seagulls and their by-products.

Even a church marquis used the weather as a take-off with this advice, “Lift up your eyes to the Heavens…and watch out for ice and snow!”

Lifting our eyes to Heaven with thanks to God is a great way to start each day. Thinking positive can alter the attitudes about experiences in life. It’s easy when they are…

• so few visits to the doctor, he doesn’t remember who you are
• healthy kids and grandkids
• bountiful gardens free of cutworms
• sunny days
• answered prayers
• a dream getaway vacation
• bonuses and bank accounts that are in the black

But life’s experiences also mimic ice, snow, avalanches, accidents, and black ice. For over a hundred years, Morton Salt proclaims that when it rains, it pours.
That may come in the form of:

• misplaced luggage that visited more states than you have
• missing shoe from each pair belonging to the under-10 set when they arrive at your home.
• a midnight family reunion at the emergency room or poison center
• a surprise diagnosis by a medical team
• the smiling repairman earning time and a half, whistling his way through a house so filled with family for the holidays, he wonders if this is the four-wall equivalent of “How many students can you cram into a Volkswagen?”

Ah, life! Such variety!

Yet through the fair weather and the freak storms, we can count on God as our refuge and our strength even when there’s a whole lot of shaking going on! “Therefore do not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging… The LORD Almighty is with us and the God of Jacob is our fortress.” [Ps. 46:2-3, 7]

What if you’re trying to sleep with all that racket? David wrote, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. [Ps 4.8] And he could drift off to dreamland while rain pelted on the roof.

So can you. Remember to lift your eyes to the Heavens, and God will give you rest—through every kind of storm.

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

SAVE THE DATE! CROSSWORD OLD TESTAMENT QUIZ DEC. 9. WIN A FREE BOOK SHIPPED ANYWHERE IF YOU ANSWER CORRECTLY FIRST!

 

Rest In Peace, Tabitha Tomato By Jo Russell

Tabitha died today, much before her time. Neighbors reported her death to Plant Protective Service (P.P.S.) and officers rushed right out to investigate–at my house! They wanted to know how the best and healthiest of the entire group could succumb to pneumonia. Never mind the freezing temperatures after weeks of playful winds up to sixty miles per hour. When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

As they quizzed me, one leveled a stare at me. It was like looking down the barrel of a .357. “Did you, her owner, contributed to her death by neglecting to cover her every night?” I shrugged. Another asked, “Did you, the accused, deny Tabitha water while you were treating the lawn with Weed and Feed?”

“How would you evaluate your daily parental attention and care?”

Before I could answer, the second cut in, “Did you, the custodial guardian, completely blown off the ‘storm watch’ warnings on weather.com?”

I hung my head, ashamed. “Well, yes,” I mumbled. “Somehow I only got to the top four on my ‘to do list.’”

“I thought so,” the officer said. “I remember Tabitha when we sent her home with you for adoption. Her leaves were strong, full, ruffled and dark. Now all she has are brown stumps. She had been budding out to produce fruit.”

“But I carefully prepared her bed and dug out wads of wrecking-ball sized roots.” I whined. “I even put in new soil and fertilizer.”

“Then why did you neglect her?”

“I FORGOT.”

“Forgot? That’s no excuse for murder! We will have to cite you on behalf of the Ned’s Nursery Adoption Agency. Don’t even think about applying for adoption again before June 15!”
Fortunately, God does not forget. Read Psalm 121:3-8. Pay attention to verse 7: “The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life.” [NIV]

His care, love, and consistency for us are built into every day. He covers us with a blanket of warmth and love when we need it, tucks us in with encouragement and challenges us while giving us food and water we need. When he is finished, he will have made us all the cream of his crop!

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking her weekly blog on www.button-to-god.com.]